Disrupting Relationships: A Catalyst for Growth

Disrupting Relationships: A Catalyst for Growth

Vicki Stieha (University of Cincinnati, USA) and Miriam Raider-Roth (University of Cincinnati, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-495-6.ch002
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Can the disruption of teachers’ relationships with themselves, as both teachers and learners, be a source for professional growth? In this chapter the authors explore teachers’ professional development experiences as a source for disrupting relationships with the “self-as-teacher” and “self-as-learner” and the way this process can facilitate innovative changes in their teaching practices. While some may view “disrupting relationships” as a negative move, the chapter will frame a view of such relational ruptures with subsequent repair as potentially growth fostering. In contrast to a view that sees disrupting relationships as a negative move, this work provides a view of reconciliation and repair as one that propels the individual forward – a move that is steeped in learning about self and about other. Developmentally, the authors understand the sense of disconnection, or rupture, as an essential “evolutionary” step as individuals continue to move beyond their mental and emotional boundaries increasing growth and learning (Kegan, 1982, 1994). In seeking to understand the teachers’ experiences, this work provides an intimate and descriptive picture of the negotiations participants made during and after an extended professional development seminar vis-à-vis their learning and teaching practice. In doing so, the authors make visible the complicated processes involved as teachers question conventional practices and invite innovation into their classrooms.
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Theoretical Lenses For This Work

We find that identifying how people “unlearn” conventional practices - a complex developmental process - is best approached through three theoretical lenses. First we turn to David Hawkins’ (2002/1974) model of the “I, Thou, It” triangle, which captures the essential relationships of classroom life. Second we examine relational theories (e.g. Gilligan, 1982; Jordan, 2004; Miller, 1976; Miller & Stiver, 1997) to help us understand how these essential learning relationships support and impede learning. Third, we add understandings gleaned from human developmental theory, particularly focusing on adult developmental theory (Kegan, 1982, 1994). Each of these lenses helps us take into consideration the emotional, cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal facets of this developmental move.

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